Sacha Elie calls herself a dreamer, but better believe she’s not a passive dreamer. She has an MFA in Acting under her belt, and her acting accolades include a TFT Acting Award, Best Actress honors at the Toronto Film Festival, and even a Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Her acting isn’t the only aspect of her professional life that has yielded laurels. The Boston-born, Haitian-American wrote a drama Clara that screened at the International Black Women’s Film Festival. “Biscuits”, a play she crafted dazzled at The Strawberry One-Act Festival in New York City before becoming a streamed series.
Kreyolicious: You have an MFA in acting from UCLA. That’s quite a feat. Growing up, were you encouraged to pursue acting?
Sacha Elie: Growing up, I had a very traditional Haitian father and a very non-traditional Haitian mother! My mother always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. When I reached eighteen, I mustered up the courage and told both my parents that I didn’t want to go to college, that I wanted to move to Los Angeles to pursue my dream. In a nutshell, it was an over my dead body response from both of my parents.
My mother always encouraged me and was never a “stage mom”. I’ve been acting since I was a child, and when I felt I wanted a normal childhood, I simply turned to her and said I wanted to just be a kid. So, I stopped, for about five years, but when college came around, I had this desire in me to tell stories and I knew exactly where I wanted to be. But my parents were not having it, one of their children with a high school education only? This is not why they came to America, they would constantly express.
They always enforced in the four of us the importance of education, which I’m extremely grateful for. I know it’s not popular in society these days to seek higher learning, but I think my education both undergraduate and graduate offers me a unique perspective to think critically, to see the world from all sides. The one thing I know no one can ever take from me is my education, no matter where or how I may end up, I will always have my mind.
My mother passed away my senior year in high School and one of the last things she ever told me was to follow my dreams, so I think the death of my mother, convinced my dad that life is too short to be unhappy. So, you might as well go after what makes you happy! It took me quite a few years after I graduated undergrad to pursue my MFA, every year leading up to applying for graduate school, my father would say, (in a Haitian Accent): “Go for your masters, you are a smart girl! GO for it!” So, he definitely encouraged me all the way and was so thrilled when I got into UCLA.
The day I graduated from UCLA. he had the biggest smile and mentioned that he was proud, because he promised my mother that he would see all four of us get our masters, and I was the last of the four, so it was a very sweet moment. What girl doesn’t like making their father proud!
Kreyolicious: You been to Haiti, tifi?
Sacha Elie: Yes! I used to go almost every summer as a kid, as I an adult I’ve been back, but I admit, it has been a few years since I’ve been back. I’m currently working on producing a short coming of age film, where we are looking for financiers to film in Haiti, Tiburon, Haiti (where my parents are from) this [past] October. It is my mission as an artist to help bring the Haitian narrative to a universal platform.
Kreyolicious: What’s next for you?
Sacha Elie: Well, I’ve been quiet, working behind the scenes, learning the ropes of film producing, as I am looking to shoot in Haiti in the coming months with my short film, currently titled, Jenn Fi. I wanted to honor my parents who are immigrants. I believe that immigration is coming under attack in the united states and in other parts of the world, so I wanted to not only show Haiti in a different light, but I also wanted to honor the bravery of the all dreamers who journeyed into the unknown. Not to mention that it’s a sweet and endearing coming of age story! So, look for it in festivals in 2019, as we are working hard to make it happen! If you are reading this and want to become an investor, please e-mail my production company at BiCoastalproductionsnyla at gmail.com.